John Fell OUP Research Fund

About the John Fell OUP Research Fund

The John Fell OUP Research Fund is an internal University of Oxford fund that is open to academics and researchers at the collegiate university. It is funded through a yearly allocation from Oxford University Press. Its purpose is to complement external research funding, for example by funding early-stage (or ‘pilot’) research that is not sufficiently developed to be submitted to an external funder. It is intended to foster a proactive approach to research opportunities in all subject areas and particularly interdisciplinary fields.

The Fund is managed by a team based in Research Services, and by teams based in each academic division. The information provided below applies for the Fell Fund in general but some aspects of it are only relevant for applicants based in the Social Sciences Division. For more information about the Fund, please see the University’s Fell Fund webpages.

Online Application Form

How to apply

The Fell Fund has three open termly rounds of Main and Small Award applications. The deadline is 12 noon on Wednesday of Week 2 every term. All applications should be submitted through IRAMS.

Guidance on eligibility of applicants, types of awards, scope of funding and eligible costs is available on the University Fell Fund webpages.

All applications must be made via the online application system IRAMS, and must receive departmental approval before the application deadline. Applications are then reviewed by a divisional panel before they are forwarded to the John Fell OUP Research Fund Committee (‘the Fell Committee’) which makes all funding decisions. Please check internal deadlines with your departmental research facilitators, and make sure you allow enough time for any departmental approval processes.


If you cannot find the information you require on the Fell Fund webpages or in the Divisional advice, or have further queries, please contact the SSD Fell Fund Inbox

fell fund logo

Guidance documentation

Please use the Scheme Guidance Notes and Checklist to help you complete your application.

Download Scheme Guidance Notes

Download Scheme Checklist

Further information

Expand All

All subject areas are encouraged to apply, and interdisciplinary and/or cross-divisional projects are especially welcome. 

Whilst the eligibility criteria for main award applications and small award applications are not exactly the same, overall the applicant should be a current salaried employee of the collegiate university holding an academic post, or a research Fellowship awarded competitively (e.g. Royal Society, University Research Fellow, Junior Research Fellow, British Academy Fellowship, Leverhulme Trust Fellowship). If you are a college-only employee, you can still apply as PI but you need a department to host your application and, if successful, administer your award.

The same eligibility rules apply to both the principal applicant and any co-applicants.

Retired and emeritus Fellows, and DPhil and other students, are not eligible to apply to the John Fell Fund (including as co-applicant).

Cross-Divisional Applications

The Fell Committee aims to strengthen support for major interdisciplinary research initiatives at the University by prioritising projects that build strategic collaborations between academic divisions. 

Cross-divisional projects must meet two criteria: academics from more than one division are involved and all the divisions involved must consider the project strategy. If a project is indeed cross-divisional, its chances of being funded are slightly higher than for non cross-divisional proposals. Projects which involve collaboration between co-applicants in different divisions but are not considered to be strategically important by all divisions involved would normally not be considered ‘cross-divisional’.

If you are planning to submit a proposal that could be considered cross-divisional as per the paragraph above, please approach the division well in advance of the application submission deadline so that we can advise you as to how to proceed.

Main awards

For main award applications (more than £10,000), you must hold a post that includes responsibility for developing your own research agenda (for example, Associate Professor, Professor, Senior Research Fellow, Fellowship awarded competitively). If you do not hold such a post but your department would support a research funding application to an external body in your name as principal investigator, then you will normally be eligible to apply for Fell Fund main award funding. However, a letter from your Head of Department must be attached to your application explaining why holding the Fell award is consistent with your work/duties, and confirming it is not in conflict with any requirements from external funders that may be paying for your salary/part of your salary.

Small awards

For small award applications (up to £10,000), the same rules apply as for main awards except that the committee will also consider applications from an early career researcher employed by the collegiate University who aspires to a post that would enable them to develop their own research agenda but does not yet hold such a post, provided that the applicant has the support of their line manager. The line manager should supply a statement of support including confirmation that holding the John Fell award would be consistent with the applicant’s work and duties, as well as with any commitments with external funders that may be paying for the applicant’s salary/part of their salary.

Assessment criteria

The John Fell Fund seeks to fund proposals that clearly demonstrate:

  • Excellence and intrinsic merit of research
  • Potential for long-term sustainability and academic impact of the project
  • Relevance to the department and divisional research strategy
  • The necessity for the John Fell Fund versus other sources of funding
  • Value for money, noting, in particular, the potential for shared use of equipment and other facilities


Both the Small Awards and Main Awards panels will review whether the proposal:


  • Meet in full or part the John Fell Fund criteria outlined above
  • Is written in a clear and concise manner (i.e. needs to be understood by a non-specialist panel)
  • Is within the word limit. This is two pages for Small Awards and four pages for Main Awards. The template must not be amended. Applications beyond the page limit and/or for which the template has been amended may be declined
  • Be appropriately costed in detail. View the University’s Fell Fund webpages for guidance on eligible costs.
  • Include a realistic plan for outputs
  • Demonstrate a clear plan for the sustainability of the project beyond the duration of the John Fell Fund award and how external funding will be sought

The panels will also consider the feasibility of the project.

Decision-making for Fell Fund applications

John Fell OUP Research Fund Committee

The Fell Committee is a sub-group of the University’s Planning and Resource Allocation Committee (PRAC) and the Research and Innovation Committee (RIC). The Fell Committee is Chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) and has representatives from all academic divisions (MPLS, SSD, MSD, and Humanities). Fell Committee membership is given on the Fell Fund web pages. The Fell Committee meets in Week 10 every term.

John Fell OUP Research Fund Committee

The SSD Fell Panel consists of the Head of Division and the Associate Head of Division (Research). This panel makes the decisions regarding which applications from SSD should be recommended for funding to the Fell Committee. The panel makes these decisions based on the assessments produced by the Divisional Small Awards Assessment Panel and the Divisional Main Awards Assessment Panel (for more details, see the Guidance document).


The status of Researcher Co-Investigator (RCo-I) allows for named researchers working on JFF projects who are providing significant intellectual input to the development of the research proposal and management of the project to have their contribution recognised. Researcher Co-Investigators are typically early-career research staff at the University who might not be eligible to apply to JFF in their own right.